Social security

What’s social security disability?

Learn more about Social Security Disability, how much benefits you will receive, and how it compares to the Supplemental Security Income.

3 min read

If you have a medically determinable disability that prevents you from working, you may be eligible to claim benefits from Social Security. One of the benefits available to workers with a long-term disability is the Social Security disability benefits.

Social Security disability is a safety net program that offers financial assistance to workers with disabilities. It insures workers who suffer a long-term illness or injury, and are unable to work or find gainful employment. If you qualify for disability benefits, you will receive monthly payments the entire time until you reach the retirement age when Social Security retirement benefits kick in.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a safety net program that pays monthly benefits to American workers who are unable to work for a period exceeding one year due to a prolonged disability. For an employee to qualify for SSDI, they must have paid Social Security taxes via payroll deductions in a job covered by Social Security.

However, to qualify for the SSDI, you must prove that you have a disability or illness that prevents you from working. Based on SSA’s definition, a person may be considered disabled if they are unable to engage in gainful activity due to a physical or mental impairment that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more.

Eligibility requirements for SSDI

You must have worked long enough to qualify for SSDI. Typically, SSA quantifies your work history in terms of work credits. You earn work credit when you work in a covered job and contribute to the Social Security system. For 2022, you earn one credit for every $1,510 in earned income, and you can earn up to four work credits each year. You must earn at least $6,040 to earn the four credits in 2022.

The number of credits needed for SSDI varies by age. Generally, eligible workers must have 40 quarters of coverage, 20 of which were earned in the 10 years ending with the year you became disabled.

Younger workers can qualify for disability benefits from Social Security with fewer work credits. For example, if you are below age 24 when you become disabled, you must have earned at least six credits in the last three years before your disability began. If your age falls between 24 and 31, you may be eligible for disability benefits if you worked half the time since 21 in a covered job.

How much income does SSDI provide?

Social Security determines your disability benefits based on your earnings history before you became disabled. Only the covered earnings are considered i.e. earnings at jobs where your employer withheld part of your earnings for Social Security taxes.

For 2022, the average Social Security Disability benefit is $1,358 per month. This benefit can go up to $3,345 for individuals who earned a high income throughout their working years. Generally, the monthly Social Security disability benefits vary from $100 to $3,345. After collecting disability benefits for at least 24 months, you will be eligible to receive Medicare benefits, regardless of your age.

If you want to know much disability benefits you qualify to receive, check your Social Security Statement at your My Social Security account. You can check the statement to know how much disability benefits you will receive if you get approved for these benefits in the current year. The statement will also show you how much you will receive in Social Security retirement benefits at different ages when you become eligible for these benefits.

Payment Schedule for Social Security Disability Benefits

The SSA pays disability benefits monthly on one of three Wednesdays in a month, depending on the date of birth of a beneficiary. If the Wednesday when the payout is scheduled is a federal holiday, the payout will be made on the preceding non-holiday day.

Here is the official payment schedule:

Second Wednesday: Individuals born from 1 to 10 of the month

Third Wednesday: Individuals born from 11 to 20 of the month

Fourth Wednesday: Individuals born from the 21 to 31 of the month

If there are multiple people receiving disability payments associated with a single claim, they will receive the monthly disability payment on the same day. This may apply to other beneficiaries such as spouses and children of the eligible worker, who are also eligible beneficiaries.


Both SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are administered by the SSA, and they provide monthly benefits to eligible workers.

SSDI is paid to workers with a long-term disability that prevents them from gainful employment, and the disability must have lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months. In comparison, SSI pays benefits to people based on their age or disability, and eligible beneficiaries must have limited income and assets.

However, while SSDI is based on your earnings history in covered jobs, SSI is not based on work history. You can receive SSI payments even if you did not work in a covered job. Benefits are paid out of the general revenues of the US Treasury.

Additionally, in most states, SSI beneficiaries automatically qualify for Medicare Coverage, while individuals receiving SSDI qualify for Medicare coverage after 24 months of collecting these benefits, except for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients who qualify for Medicare immediately.